CHAPEL HILL — The chancellor who has led North Carolina’s flagship public university for four years will step down next year in the wake of scandals involving academic fraud, improper travel spending by fundraisers and special treatment for athletes.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp will resign in June after the academic year and return to teaching in the chemistry department, where he had been a longtime professor and former chair, America’s oldest public university said Monday.
“I will always do what is best for this university. This wasn’t an easy decision personally. But when I thought about the university and how important it’s been to me, to North Carolinians and to hundreds of thousands of alumni, my answer became clear,” Thorp said in a news release.
Thorp met privately Friday for almost an hour with the board overseeing the 17-campus state university system, and several members of the Board of Governors said they thought Thorp was doing a great job.
Thorp said Friday he worked to reform problems uncovered during his watch, which he said were the result of lax policies and oversight. The university said Thorp offered UNC System President Tom Ross his resignation on Sunday.
In the latest black eye for the university, the mother of former Tar Heels basketball star Tyler Hansbrough resigned her development job – along with top university fundraiser Matt Kupec – last week under suspicion of improper travel spending. An internal audit Thorp launched is checking whether the pair used money from donors to travel to cities where Tami Hansbrough’s younger son Ben was playing basketball for Notre Dame,
Thorp’s resignation also comes as public university leaders across the nation struggle to navigate wrenching changes and financial pressures.